Yesterday was the deadline for consultation on the National Curriculum and this review might lead to citizenship education being removed. As more and more schools are encouraged to opt out of LA supervision, with too many offering a narrow academic curriculum focusing on “traditional” subjects, I wonder how inclusive these schools really can be if they are not including subjects relevant to the modern world - such as IT, business, media studies?
Is the curriculum about to get even narrower? Citizenship is obviously relevant so I wonder why the government needs to flag this up for review in the first place, given that in a democratic society we have a fundamental and human right to engage in public life. A democratically elected government should surely ensure that these rights are embedded in schools, so that children can learn about and participate in their political and social communities - about equality, justice, diversity, current affairs? Some of these are controversial but they stimulate questioning and debate. All of these topics complement the academic curriculum. They illuminate and give relevance to academic learning of music, history, languages, science.
Citizenship education is an internationally recognised and respected subject and it is crucial in equipping children with the tools to be thoughtful citizens and to have a broader knowledge of the world and their contribution to it. Citizenship plays an important part in social cohesion, in helping to eradicate xenophobia, homophobia, hatred and in promoting understanding of human rights, liberty, caring for your neighbour.
I expect some will see citizenship as a leftie leftover and will be happy to see this Labour initiative dumped in the bin, arguing that it is not a schools responsibility to waste precious curriculum time on “social cohesion”. But by abandoning citizenship education, we run the risk of even greater discrimination and social division and a decreasing awareness of human rights. What is the value of that?
There has been much talk from the government about the “Big Society” and “Social Mobility” but we can only have these if we ensure that the spirit of democracy is upheld, by ensuring that the Citizenship Curriculum retains its statutory force.